The workers must have unity and a class-based policy

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
19 June 2017

Macron won a strong majority in the second round of the parliamentary election. He is now confident that he will have the indiscriminate support he needs to push through the measures announced in his program.

For over fifty years, what passed for democracy in France was a system in which “majority” parties alternated power under labels such as The Republicans (LR) or Socialist Party (PS). Macron’s “new” majority boasts of having eliminated the professional politicians of yesterday’s majority parties. But some of them have found a way to survive by swearing allegiance to Macron.

The Macronite leaders are also proud of having made room in Parliament for what they call MPs from “civilian society”. However, these MPs are entrepreneurs, start-up bosses, company CEOs, high-level managers, property owners. They belong to petty- or middle-bourgeois circles whose main focus is the well-being of big bourgeois capital owners.

The “working-class” electorate (manual workers, jobless workers, retired workers, etc.) stayed well away from the elections. Average abstention reached a record high at 51.3% in the first round. It was even higher in the second round at 56.6%. In working-class neighborhoods, abstention was above average, reaching 60% or even 70% and more. The total should also include the many blank and spoiled ballots and the number of people in working-class areas who are so disgusted by elections that change nothing in their lives that they’re not even on the electoral register any more.

A significant number of right-wing politicians were attracted to vote for Macron because he plans to pursue what the right wing dreamed of and Hollande started with the new labor (El Khomri) law: he is going to demolish the part of the Labor Code that gave workers a little protection against the bosses' greed. Macron gives no details about his objectives so the unions can passively agree with him and the workers won’t be provoked into action. Will he allow the bosses the possibility to write custom-made labor contracts at company level or at branch level? Whatever the answer, it will be an all-out attack on the workers.

The Macron-Philippe government is a government prepared for social war. It will use state power to rob the exploited classes and give to the rich. The big bosses and financiers will have more money while a growing fraction of the population plunges into poverty.

Between the two rounds, the main argument put forward not only by the failed parties on the government left but also by the French communist party (PCF) and Mélenchon’s “Indomitable France” was “Don’t leave Macron free to do what he wants”. This is pathetic coming from those who say that, when they are in government, they will represent the people but who really just want to win a few parliamentary seats. But Macron has announced that he will govern by ordinance, only revealing the contents of his anti-social laws at the last minute. With the new labor law, workers have already learned that the executive can use article 49.3 to ignore parliamentary opposition, should there even be any opposition.

Arguments in Parliament won’t stop the offensive of the government and the ruling class. Only the collective strength of the working class can bring change.

Capitalist greed and the arrogance of capitalist government are going to cause social explosions. Those who are firmly on the workers’ side must make sure that these explosions are guided by the class consciousness of the workers, that their common interests are opposed to those of big business.

This collective strength must not be sidetracked or, worse still, undermined to the point of setting worker against worker according to their origin or their category.

It is essential that the workers build a party that represents their political interests. This party will be determined to take the struggles, big or small, of workers of all categories as far as possible. Its fundamental objective is to overthrow the dictatorship of big business over society. In other words, expropriate the big bourgeoisie, put an end to this economy based on exploitation and the search for private profit and replace it with an economy that is based on collective ownership and organized according to everyone’s needs.